Following world news - it used to be so easy. I began to take an interest in the news, world news, national news, international news, in my teens. Living in Victoria, Australia, we had two main newspapers, The Sun and The Age. They both carried the same news. The Sun was more chatty and less detailed. The Age had the detail and included comment and articles by experts. And then there was the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission). They broadcasted the same news, often with a left wing bias. At the time of my teens and during my early adult years, world news was terrifying everyone. The cold war was heating up and nuclear war loomed as a distinct possibility. It meant world news was important to everyone. The various news sources had different takes on world events but basically they all told similar stories.
But now we have the rabbit hole, or is it rabbit holes?
With the family car having broken down for a week, I relied on Ubers and taxis to get me to and from the hospital where my son is a patient. It was a taxi driver who coaxed me into going down the rabbit hole.
The term, ‘Down the rabbit hole’, has its origins in Lewis Carroll’s classic, ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Alice falls down a rabbit hole and enters a strange and absurd alternative universe. A taxi driver showed me the hole and gave me a little push down it. This chatty driver asked me for the reason I was visiting the hospital. I told him of my son’s paralysis and how it possibly had something to do with covid or the vaccines. From that point on the conversation was deadly serious. When we reached our destination, the driver was in no hurry to move on. He started telling me of an alternative universe. He told me of doctors, researchers, gurus who were linking all kinds of disasters (my son’s paralysis for instance) to the virus and the vaccines. On a small piece of paper, he wrote the address of a website. “You have to look at this site and the video clips,” he said. His eyes shone with the passion of an evangelist.
I followed his lead and it led me into a bizarre world, where the news as I know it, the world as I know it, was turned upside down. This was not just about covid and vaccines, but about all manner of world issues. Serious men and women, apparently experts, said the world I thought I was living in was an illusion. The truth about everything was not to be found in the world of traditional news sources but in this ‘other’ universe.
Last weekend a crowd of thousands blocked the motorway in Auckland. It was a protest, but not about any one thing. The people interviewed gave various reasons for participating in the protest. Some were not sure what they were protesting about. They were just ill at ease with the world as it is and needed to protest. My guess is that many of them had been ‘down the rabbit hole’. Personally, I am sceptical about the ‘authorities’ and ‘experts’ I encountered down the rabbit hole. Mind you, I have long been sceptical about many of the mainstream ‘experts’. However, maybe I’m naïve but, I am going to keep on referring to sources I have followed over many years.
I feel for our digitally glued, younger generations. They have access to the world’s wisdom and the world’s libraries on their phones. But, how will they know what is the truth about anything? I can’t criticise, but know I must wish them well and support them in any way I can.